Mar 16, 2020




MARCH 28, 31, APRIL 3, 2020;


Manitoba Opera announced today that the run of Carmen, scheduled for March 28, 31, and April 3, at the Centennial Concert Hall, has been cancelled following the recommendations of the Province of Manitoba’s public health authorities to limit gatherings larger than 250 in response to the COVID-19 crisis.

“I want to thank our patrons, supporters and stakeholders for their patience as we organized ourselves in preparation for this announcement,” said Larry Desrochers, General Director & CEO.  “Of course, this decision is a disappointment to both patrons who were looking forward to the production and the artists who were eager to perform, but clearly necessary in this time of crisis.”

In the coming days, Manitoba Opera will be in communication with Carmen ticket holders with more information about options for their tickets and appreciate their patience during these unprecedented circumstances.

The company has also postponed the Gala Reception honouring Tannis M. Richardson to the fall and will be providing more information on this event as it is finalized.

The Dinner at DeLuca’s event May 14 is still on schedule to occur, but advisories from public health officials will be monitored over the coming weeks and if necessary, that will be postponed as well.

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Mar 10, 2020


Considered to be one of the world’s most popular operas, Carmen, the sexy thriller that seduces the audience with every note, will be presented by Manitoba Opera at the Centennial Concert Hall Saturday, March 28 (7:30 pm), Tuesday, March 31, (7 pm), and Friday, April 3 (7:30 pm).  Set in Spain, Carmen tells the story of a passionate, free-spirited woman who can have any man she wants, but when she seduces the young soldier Don José only to cast him aside for the handsome bullfighter, she seals her tragic fate.  Carmen will be sung in French with French dialogue and projected English projections.

For tickets call 204-944-8824, go online at, or in person at the MO Box Office, lower level, Centennial Concert Hall (9:30 am – 4:30 pm, Monday to Friday).  Seniors, students, and youth discounts are available.

Carmen is unrivalled in its list hit melodies and recognizable music, including Carmen’s smoky Habanera, Don José’s Flower Song, and the rousing Toreador Song.  Over 140 years after its premiere in Paris, composer Georges Bizet’s opera continues to captivate audiences around the globe.

“Who can resist the sensuous music of Bizet? With its lavish score and brilliant orchestration, Carmen is an irresistible theatrical event. Last performed by the company in 2010, we are very pleased to bring this opera to the stage for an entirely new audience,” explains Larry Desrochers, General Director & CEO.

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Mar 5, 2020


Manitoba Opera’s 20/21 Season to Feature

A Manitoba First: Sweeney Todd and the Political Thriller: Tosca


In its 48th season, Manitoba Opera (MO) will be bringing two outstanding works to the stage. Stephen Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd – a masterpiece of American repertoire which has won or been nominated for over 60 awards – will open the season November 7, 19, 13, and Puccini’s Tosca – one of opera’s most suspenseful and compelling works – will be presented April 10, 13, 16. Both productions will be presented at the Centennial Concert Hall. For tickets call 204-957-7842 or go to

These showpieces are unparalleled theatrical experiences. Sweeney Todd is a darkly comic look at poverty and vengeance in Victorian England; Tosca is a first-rate political thriller fueled by jealously, lust, and double crossings. Each features amazing music and arias, edge-of-your-seat stories, sets that will transport you to another time and place – all delivered by a host of incomparable artists from all over North America.

A Manitoba First! This will be the first time that a full-scale production of Sweeney Todd will be presented in the province.  Manitoba Opera is the only arts organization in the province able to present this work as written with a full orchestra, sets, and costumes.

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Feb 20, 2020

The Man Behind the Man Behind Carmen 

Prosper Mérimée (1803–1870) was a French dramatist, historian, archaeologist, and short story writer. He is perhaps best known for his novella Carmen, which became the basis of Bizet’s opera Carmen.

Mérimée was born in Paris. He studied law as well as Greek, Spanish, English, and Russian. He was among the first interpreters of Russian literature in France. Mérimée loved mysticism, history, the unusual, and the mystification, the historical fiction popularized by Sir Walter Scott and the cruelty and psychological drama of Aleksandr Pushkin. Many of his stories are mysteries set in foreign places, Spain and Russia being popular sources of inspiration.

In 1834, Mérimée was appointed to the post of inspector-general of historical monuments, and he was instrumental in the restoration and preservation of many historic sites in France, including the Cathedral of Notre Dame and the citadel Carcassonne. In this official capacity he published numerous reports, some of which, with other similar pieces, have been republished in his works.

Mérimée met and befriended the Countess of Montijo in Spain in 1830 who he credited as being his source for the Carmen story. He coached the Countess’ daughter, Eugenie, during her courtship with Napoleon III (though his correspondence indicates he was opposed to their marriage). When the daughter became Empress Eugénie of France in 1853 he was made a senator.

In 1841, Prosper Mérimée and his friend George Sand* made a major contribution to the history of medieval art by discovering the luminous tapestries of The Lady and the Unicorn during a stay at the Château de Boussac in the Limousin district of central France, which entered immediately into history thanks to the writings of Sand.

Prosper Mérimée died in Cannes, France.

*George Sand was the pseudonym used by Amantine Lucile Aurore Dupin, a French novelist who is recognized as one of the most notable authors of the Romantic era in Europe.



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Jan 28, 2020

A Close Shave for Al Simmons’ The Barber of Seville  

This winter, 18 schools in Winnipeg and southern Manitoba will have the pleasure of experiencing “The Barber of Seville styled by Al Simmons.” However, it is a tour that could have easily never happened. In 2018, the trailer on Al’s property in Anola, Manitoba, that houses all his show props and costumes burnt down, and he lost almost everything.

Commissioned by Manitoba Opera in 2009, Al’s 55-minute version of The Barber of Seville has toured all over the province and become a school favourite that always sells out. In the fall of 2018, the company reached out to Al and proposed he take a crack at rebuilding the beloved show. He was game for the challenge.

Between January 28 and March 6, Al, the master of mischief, mayhem, and madcap-melody, will be presenting his fourth tour of this one-man show to over 8,000 students. For the majority of students, this 55-minute comical look at love, greed, deceit, and close shaves will be their first experience with opera.


We visited with Al recently as he was putting the finishing touches on the new show to chat with him about the rebuilding process.


Following the loss of so many of your costumes and props, you had to rebuild the entire show from the ground up. What was that process like, and did you end up making any changes to the show as a result of rebuilding?

It was heart breaking to lose all the props and costumes from this show. I even had specially designed homemade cases to transport everything.  My script and stage plots were in the cases. Fortunately I had most of the text in my computer. The props were fun to rebuild, even though I couldn’t find some of the parts.

I had used an antique hand cranked blower to create a storm.  A good friend in Connecticut found something similar and sent it to me. My wife, Barb, still had the patterns for the costume so she was able to re-create it. Fortunately, I had lots of photos to work from.  I’m proud to say that my “carrot-scizzors” and “volcano wig” are superior to the first ones I made.


This is the fourth time that you have toured this show for us. What is it about the plot of The Barber of Seville that makes it a good show for student audiences?

The story of love, lies and bullying in this 200-year-old European opera still resonates with today’s youth. The lyrics of the songs come very close to the themes of the current hit parade, proving nothing much has changed over the years. The music touches the soul, and the comedy captivates students as young as kindergarteners. Most students who have seen my show had heard opera before – in a cartoons, movies, or video games – but they don’t realize it until I play them a few popular excerpts.


For this show, you wear a lot of hats – literally! How many different characters do you portray?

I become 10 different people: Figaro, Rosina, Count Almaviva, Dr. Bartolo, Fiorello, Don Basilio, Bugs Bunny, Elmer Fudd, as well as William Tell and his son.


How is this show different than or similar to any of the other shows you perform?

The only similarity between my shows is me. I’m in all the shows! Seriously though folks, all my shows are funny and have wacky props and costumes.  I spend a lot of time hiding education in my comedy – be they science facts, language arts, or just subtle life lessons – I want to leave the audience with information. This show demonstrates that operas are stories that are sung. It also lets folks hear music that they wouldn’t necessarily hear on the radio or on a streaming service.


If you were to pick another opera to set as a one-man show, which one would you choose?

I have always loved Carmen, but starting off a show in a cigarette factory might not be the best idea for elementary kids.


Al Simmons working on the Barber of Seville props. Photo Robert Tinker.


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Jan 21, 2020


Toronto, ON –, the national association for opera in Canada, is proud to honour an outstanding opera company board member, Elba Haid, Chair of Manitoba Opera’s (MO) Board of Trustees, as the 2020 recipient of the National Opera Directors Recognition Award.
Now in its 12th year, the National Opera Directors Recognition Award highlights the tenets of good governance, celebrates models of volunteer excellence, and raises the bar for board director commitment.

“The strength and stability of an opera company correlates to the calibre of its volunteer leadership, and strong governance is a crucial factor in an opera company’s success. Elba Haid’s contributions to Manitoba Opera are exemplary, enabling the company to increase its fundraising, eliminate debt, and build a strong foundation for the future,” stated Christina Loewen, Executive Director of “We are delighted to honour Elba Haid with this award and to celebrate the impact she has made, and continues to make, to Manitoba Opera and by extension to the community of Winnipeg.”

Elba Haid joined the board of Manitoba Opera in 2007. Prior to becoming Chair, she served as Chair of the Annual Gala and of the Camerata Committee (for donors starting at $1,250) during which time gifts and donations increased by 20%. In 2018, she was instrumental in the development of a new fundraising initiative – The Gail Asper Award – named after Winnipeg philanthropist Gail Asper and awarded to individuals who, like its namesake, demonstrate exemplary leadership in the field of endeavor or pursuit of a visionary goal. The event raised $255,000 in support of the company’s programming and education programs.

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Jan 15, 2020


Manitoba Opera announced today that the company will honour Winnipeg champion, philanthropist, and volunteer Tannis M. Richardson C.M., B.Sc. (H. Ec.), LL.D. with The Gail Asper Award. The Gail Asper Award was created by Manitoba Opera in 2018 to honour individuals who demonstrate exemplary leadership in a field of endeavor or pursuit of a visionary goal.

Mrs. Richardson has made a significant difference in her hometown of Winnipeg and across the country through her decades of work and dedication to the arts, health care, and cultural organizations. She will receive The Gail Asper Award at a Gala Reception held in her honour Thursday, April 16, 2020, from 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm at the Manitoba Club, 194 Broadway, Winnipeg.

Mrs. Richardson cares deeply about her community and giving back. She has been a dedicated supporter of numerous health, cultural, and social service organizations. She has been especially committed to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation of Canada (JDRF), serving at the community and national levels, as well as with JDRF International.

In addition, she has contributed time and funds to many organizations including Manitoba Opera (for which she sat on the board from 1975 to 1978), the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, Manitoba Museum, United Way of Winnipeg, and the Kidney Foundation of Canada, and played an instrumental role in the development of the Winnipeg Art Gallery, as well as other organizations. In recognition of her philanthropy and community service, and among other awards, Mrs. Richardson was invested in the Order of Canada in 2003 and awarded an honorary degree by the University of Manitoba in 2012. (Bio follows)

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